Disclaimer: English isn't my native language and I haven't studied writing, book editing or poetry at all.

According to my meta question about asking questions about sources or references for help book editing, this question is focused on asking external resources (i.e) references or tips for help in book editing (self-published books) specially.

My question may be related to this one, However, I'm looking for answers who contains external links and guidance for book editing.

Any comment and edit for generates a well-asked question are welcome.


2 Answers 2


This site, written from the poet-author's POV is pretty good: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/getting-a-poetry-collection-published-from-submission-to-the-next-project (Note that this page is just the link page to the content.)

This site is targeted more at people using their service, but it has some good practical advice: http://www.authorhouse.com/AuthorHouseTV/Poetry.aspx

This site has both good advice and good links: http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/publishing/self-publishing.html

But, really, all I did was Google edit self-publish poetry, which you could easily do yourself.

  • which you could easily do yourself I couldn't avoid read and interpret as sarcastic this line of your answer or in some way that I can't describe better, but I'll check your provided links. not pun, sarcasm or bad intention added in my comment BTW. Jan 27, 2015 at 23:00
  • I added that last line because 1) this site discourages people from just posting collections of links obtained from search engines, 2) it's not clear what your question is asking for, and 3) you could probably search better on your own. In summary, the comment was meant to be self-deprecating and to spur you to more clarity and self-actualization.
    – dmm
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:16
  • I'm guessing I don't get the bounty now. ;-)
    – dmm
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:18
  • I'm guessing I don't get the bounty now You don't know yet ;) and as I put at the beginning of my question, basically I haven't knowledges about writing, books or poetry at all, I understand that my question may not be clear, but since I haven't more resources for generate a more specific one, I must continue with this one. I want get professional or respetable results in my self-published poetry book. Jan 28, 2015 at 13:16
  • I accepted your answer because it provide references, but @piersb's answer it's also valid and accepted for me too. Jul 8, 2015 at 13:27

There are two parts involved in writing - the creative bit, when you're doing it, and then the editing afterwards.

If the editing part of your brain is around when you're being creative, then you'll never finish anything, because your internal editor will keep telling you that it's not good enough. And if you've ever taught, you'll know that the best way to stop anything interesting happening is to critique too early. Get it down, then improve it later.

Of course, later, when you're editing it, the last thing you want is the creative bit going "But wouldn't a poem about puppies be better? Why not write that instead?"

Ideally, you'd have a trusted reader or two to help you analyse the work, see where the problems are, and then you can put your work into fixing them.

But the question's about self-editing.

The main trick for self-editing is to get some distance between yourself and the work. The standard way of doing this is to leave it for a while, at least a week and ideally a month. This is often referred to as "putting it in the bottom drawer for a while" or for a metaphor to the metaphor (and my personal favourite, being about both writing and whisky) "maturing it in wood".

Use a separate area of your house to edit if you can, especially in the later stages. You want to divorce the creative part from the editing part. I'll often do the first couple of edit passes at the computer, just to get rid of the truly shitty bits, but I don't think editing really starts until you get to pen and paper.

If you compose at a computer (as most people do) then you want to look at it in a different format. So print the thing out. Get a pen. Go somewhere else (the kitchen table works for me.) And start marking it up. Because you're using a different medium for editing rather than composing, the corrections you need to make will be easier to spot.

The first corrections will be huge ones. Deleting old scenes. Writing whole new ones. This is the part I love most, because it's the easiest. Just crossing a big line through the scenes which are rubbish takes a few seconds and noticeably improves the whole piece. You'll never have such a big improvement in quality for so little effort again, so enjoy this. Write corrections and new scenes in the margin, or new pieces of paper. Concentrate on the bigger picture. Then take your marked-up papers to the computer and type them in.

Then do it again.

Then do it again.

Then do it again.

And keep going.

Every time, you'll find that the corrections you need to make are smaller. Each time you edit, you'll see that there's less to fix. Keep doing it, and eventually you'll get to the point where you're just changing individual words and correcting typos.

Keep going until your changes aren't making it better - just different. You'll know when that is.

The next few bits of advice are mostly for screenwriting, but should also be useful for novelists.

Do a character pass - look at each scene from the point of view of each character in it. If I were that character at that point in the scene, what would I know? What would I feel? What would I do and say? And if they're not doing, feeling, saying that thing, correct it, type it up, and move on to the next character in the scene. And when the scene has been done from all points of view, read and mark up from the point of view of the omniscient narrator. And when that's done, move on to the next scene.

Do a dialogue pass - read it aloud. If you're working on a play (radio, screen, or TV) rather than a novel, this is best done with others - actors, if you know some, will usually this for the price of a pint or some wine and a cheap dinner. You can make pasta-and-pesto for 15 people and still have change out of a tenner. In order of preference to do this: trained actors, amateur actors, your friends, the mechanical voice on your computer, yourself. This helps you get a handle on whether the dialogue feels real or not. If it's stumbling on someone's tongue, you'll know.

Do a spelling pass - don't concentrate on what the words mean, just whether they're spelled correctly. You'll still miss some. I've heard that this can be done more easily by reading backwards, so you can't actually parse the sentences, but I've never actually tried it that way.

I've only got one external link for you, but as far as I'm concerned it's the most useful editing link in the world.

Proofreading Marks

This is a list of proofreading marks. Print it out and have it next to you while editing. No more trying to remember what you meant to change, or scribbling all over the sheet - it's a series of standardised marks to help you edit. Which means you can do it faster.

  • +1 By the creative and edit parts which I'm totally agree. These steps are IMHO the most important ones for declare your work as valuable for other readers. The provided link would be a useful link for someone involved in writing a book with a lot of pages and special focus on editing words. Jan 30, 2015 at 21:46

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